Distribution Matters, Too
Jennifer Marks -- Home Textiles Today, February 6, 2006
If there’s one thing you can always count on hearing during a New York market week (mini or maxi), it’s this: “The business is really tough right now — except for us. We’re having a great year.”
Now, either I am peculiarly gifted in selecting whom I go to visit, or the standard by which a “great year” is determined has broadened considerably.
And that’s okay. A lot of New York showroom suppliers are broadening their outlook of late, particularly as it concerns channels of distribution. I hear a lot more talk these days about HSN, QVC and Amazon than in the recent past. All three are a thinly veiled direct-to-consumer sale, but we won’t tell anybody, will we?
Elsewhere, suppliers with notable names whose distribution has been dedicated solely to department stores and specialty chains are quietly wooing the independent specialty sector.
Many also are pursuing the hotel business — from Holiday Inn Express to extreme luxury properties. (An aside for a moment, on the subject of hotels: If you really want to make a run at it, get thee to Dubai, where the number of luxury properties under construction is literally in the hundreds. Big hotel furnishings show planned for June. Western design sensibilities are more than welcome.)
On another front, a growing portion of business is being transacted between traditional volume suppliers and furniture dealers.
A colleague on HTT’s sister publication, Furniture Today, recently remarked that a number of furniture retailers are interested in fleshing out their assortments with textiles, “but they have no idea how to go about it.”
That’s interesting, I replied. A lot of suppliers are interested in dipping a toe into the furniture business. They just don’t know how to get started.
Smaller niche suppliers — those who ply their trade in Las Vegas and High Point and at gift fairs in Atlanta and New York — have always known there’s a bigger world out there.
The time seems to have arrived when the big suppliers are starting to figure it out, too.
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